What will your genealogical legacy be?
You have devoted countless hours to researching your ancestors. You have created pedigree charts and family group sheets for a tree that spans three centuries and you have plenty of documentation for all of them. There’s no doubt you have done good work to get to where you are.
The question is, how will you pass all you have done and all that you now know on to the other members of your family, particularly the next generations?
GotGenealogy.com’s Golden Rules of Genealogy offer a good guide on what to do. Rule #9 advises, “…leave your research the way you’d have liked to have found it.” The future genealogists in your family will thank you for it.
But don’t stop there. Rule #10 says, “Genealogy isn’t about just doing research. Genealogy is about telling the stories and ensuring that your ancestor’s legacies live on for generations to come. Without the stories, the research won’t do anyone much good. The legacy of your ancestors rests in your capable hands.”
The majority of genealogists say that someday they will write a family history book that tells their ancestors’ stories. They just aren’t ready to do it right now. There is more research to do before they can start. I understand. I love to research. The truth is that research is never done. There’s always something else to check out.
So at some point you have to stop researching and start writing. Barbara Tuchman, a historian who won two Pulitzer Prizes, understands the problem well. She said: “The most important thing about research is to know when to stop. How does one recognize the moment? …One must stop before one is finished; otherwise, one will never stop and never finish.”
Pausing your research to write a book is not to stop it forever. The book you produce will certainly reflect what you know now. If you return to your research after you write the book you’ll probably learn things that you will want to add. The beauty of digital age is that it’s easy to add to your book’s file and upload it to a printer who can produce a second edition.
The important thing is to make sure you get that first edition done and into print – e-book, physical book or both – and into the hands of family members. It will assure that your genealogical legacy is secure. Your whole family, not just the future genealogists, will thank you for that.